As they arrived at the event, NVCC students, faculty, staff, and community members were asked to walk around several large sheets of paper posted on the walls of the Leever Atrium and brainstorm. What do you expect from this event? What do you think of when you see the word privilege? I am privileged because… were some of the prompts for consideration. Attendees took their time thinking about and jotting down their responses, many lingered around the sheets reading over what previous individuals had written. Following the brainstorming session, everyone started on the same line and moved forward or backward based on their life experiences. At the end of the experiential activity, some participants realized they were quite privileged while others were not. A debriefing session asked participants to communicate how they felt about their placement; did it match their expectations? Was anyone uncomfortable? What question most troubled participants or gave them reason to pause?
The Privilege Walk encouraged participants to think about “privilege,” that unearned chance at access and opportunity that is bestowed on individuals more out of random fate than merit. The February 13 Privilege Walk was the first held at NVCC and part of the College’s “Social Justice Series” with more events scheduled throughout the semester that will raise awareness and foster dialogues around the topics of race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Sponsored by NVCC’s Black Student Union and the Social Justice Series as well as the Waterbury Juneteenth Committee, hosting the event at the College was a no-brainer, “Our campus is gorgeous and it can accommodate a large gathering of people. More importantly, we are a community college that is open and welcoming to the community. The event was not limited to our students, staff, and faculty; in fact, the overwhelming majority came from the community, by way of Eventbrite and Facebook,” said one of the event organizers, NVCC Professor Kathy Taylor. “We need to be ever vigilant, protective, and mindful of our rights,” she added.